The Wind In The Willows

The Toad saw at once how wrongly and foolishly he had acted. He admitted his errors and wrong headedness and made a full apology to Rat for losing his boat and spoiling his clothes. And he wound up by saying with that frank self-surrender which always disarmed his friend’s criticism and won them back to his side, “Ratty! I see that I have been a headstrong and a wilful Toad! Henceforth believe me, I will be humble and submissive, and will take no action without your kind advice and full approval!”

“If that is really so,” said the good-natured Rat, already appeased, “then my advice to you is, considering the lateness of the hour, to sit down and have your supper, which will be on the table in a minute, and be very patient. For I am convinced that we can do nothing until we have seen the Mole and the Badger, and heard their latest news, and held conference and taken their advice in this difficult matter.”

I was first given this book as a child and, as with so many children’s books, it was ill-suited to me at the time. What does a child know of irony and sagacity, or, on a more concrete basis, motor-cars and rivers? To a child, animals already possess human qualities, so it isn’t until we’re adults and out of touch with our child’s side that we can truly appreciate what Kenneth Grahame has done with Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad.

He has made them completely endearing! From their clothing to their tea-time, their abilities with boats and establishing cozy homes, we become enchanted with these four. The Badger is my favorite, a very mature and wise creature is he who inhabits the Wild Wood. Completely opposite is the conceited Toad, who is possessed with driving motor-cars and living on the edge. Rat and Mole are two friends in between, just your average kind of guys, who will love you and save you and stand by you in a scrape.

The British language is absolutely charming, as are the escapades of these creatures. Reading this book makes me feel like going and preparing a nice, proper tea right now, complete with china cups and buttered toast. No wonder it was one of A.A. Milne’s favorite books. It is now one of mine as well.